The Sunshine Coast Falcons continued their great record at home to the Hunters with a third consecutive win on the Coast against the PNG side.
The PNG Hunters were outmuscled, out-enthused, and ultimately outscored by a Sunshine Coast side that showed they will be a genuine force in this year’s Intrust Super Cup premiership with their 38-14 win on Saturday afternoon.
The Falcons appeared to have it under control for most of the match, they were the first to score, and never looked like they would be overtaken. Mainly due to the Hunters inability to hang onto the ball at key times.
It started well for the Falcons as Alex Bishop crossed after just three minutes, and Justin Olam turned on the style for their second as he made his former teammates look very ordinary with a powerful run. Bland Abavu, who was one of the Hunters best, and may yet get a chance with an NRL team like Olam, scored next for the Hunters after a determined run near to the try line. It was the final score of the half and the Hunters trailed 14-4 at the break, and were reasonably lucky to be only that far behind.
The teams scored a try each after the break, when Kauna Jnr replied to Matthew Soper’s 50th minute try, and it was still 20-8 with over 20 minutes to play.
From there though it was all Falcons, as the home side put on three tries in seven minutes to put the game well and truly beyond the Hunters. A late Abavu try was a consolation as a try gets in rugby league.
For the Sunshine Coast, their best were the halves Alex Bishop and Guy Hamilton, and Jye Ballinger. Justin Olam showed plenty of reasons why he can’t be too far away from a Melbourne Storm berth. The Hunters will rue their lack of discipline with the ball, but just never looked likely today, and have now been overtaken by the Falcons on the ladder. Sunshine Coast join their Melbourne Storm feeder counterparts on 4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 38
Tries: Alex Bishop (3m), Justin Olam (26m), Matthew Soper-Lawler (50m), Brandon Smith (68m), Matthew Soper-Lawler (70m), Jahrome Hughes (75m)
Goals: Guy Hamilton 6 Conv, 1 Pen
PNG HUNTERS 14
Tries: Bland Abavu (29m), Karo Kauna Jnr (57m), Bland Abavu (79m)
Goals: Ase Boas 1 Conv
Rivalry round hits the Sunshine Coast, and whilst some might question how the Falcons and Hunters can be rivals, one would only need to have seen some of their most recent clashes to know why.
First of all the PNG Hunters will be looking to get revenge on the Sunshine Coast side for having the audacity to beat the PNG side in Port Moresby, and on the occasion of their first Intrust Super Cup finals game. It was their first loss on PNG soil in over two years. And after the Falcons cheekily rested players the week before and lost by 30.
Whilst the Falcons went on to surprise many by getting within a game of the Grand Final, the Hunters were left to stew a third consecutive finals loss in two years and wait for next season.
Sunshine Coast actually have an excellent record against the Hunters, especially on the coast, as the Hunters have won just once there since their inception in 2014. That day in 2014 the Falcons came very close to upsetting PNG in a season where the Sunshine Coast just once. The Hunters have been thoroughly outplayed in the two subsequent visits.
Both sides arrive in great form, and this game should be a cracker. And happily for those who can’t make it, there’s a Live Stream available courtesy of the QRL Website.
The Falcons are on a run of three straight wins, the last being their first home win against Wynnum last weekend. The Hunters meanwhile have won all three of their away games so far in 2017, and that sounds a warning to the rest of the competition for 2017 as away form was their real weak point in 2016.
The Hunters were tremendous in their big win over Mackay last weekend, and happily for the Hunters fans they showed a little more of that devil may care flair for which they are famous for and loved.
WHO TO LOOK OUT FOR
The number 4’s. Of course Willie Minoga is always one to watch, and his conversion into a centre has been tremendous in 2017, and one of the reasons for their great start to the season. The other number 4 – Justin Olam – actually played alongside most of the Hunters in 2016. He moved to the Sunshine Coast for 2017 as part of Melbourne Storm’s recruitment. Olam isn’t far away from a taste of NRL, and his numbers in 2017 for the Falcons have been super.
PNG Hunters by 8
Sunshine Coast Falcons
1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Samuel Wright 3. Whetu Austin 4. Justin Olam 5. Matthew Soper-Lawler 6. Alex Bishop (c) 7. Guy Hamilton 18. Lachlan Timm 9. Brandon Smith 10. Vincent Leuluai 11. Jye Ballinger 12. Jon Grieve 13. Martin Cordwell 14. Sam Burns 15. Christian Morris 16. Liam McDonald 17. Harrison Muller
Coach: Craig Ingebrigtsen
1. Bland Abavu 2. Stargroth Amean 3. Israel Eliab 4. Willie Minoga 5. Karo Kauna Jr. 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Henry Wan 9. Silas Gahuna 10. Esau Siune 11. Nixon Putt 12. Moses Meninga 13. Stanton Albert 14. Noel Joel 15. Rahdly Brawa 16. Enock Maki 17. Lawrence Tu’u 18. Muka Peter Kalu
Coach: Michael Marum
R4 Sunshine Coast 28 PNG 20
R25 PNG 34 Sunshine Coast 4
FINAL WK 1 PNG 12 Sunshine Coast 18
|Sunshine Coast Stadium|
|31 Sportsmans Parade, Bokarina QLD 4575, Australia|